Born and raised in New York City, Joe Reilly, Founder and President of National Drug Screening, Inc., moved to Florida in 1981 to start his entrepreneurial journey. After launching and growing a window treatment business, Reilly switched gears and spent nine years as owner and operator of a Brevard County bar and restaurant. His experience owning a restaurant eventually led to consulting and risk management work within the hospitality industry, and ultimately into the world of drug testing in 1993.
“When I first started in drug testing, which was maybe 10 years old at the time, there was a tremendous amount of opportunity,” Reilly said. “Employers were looking to drug test employees and in Florida this enabled companies to save 5% on workers comp insurance premiums. A few months later, I learned that the United States Department of Transportation required drug & alcohol testing of transportation related private companies, thus providing another opportunity.”
Through trial and error, cold calling, attending as many trade shows as possible and getting involved with industry-related organizations, Reilly’s first business, Florida Drug Screening, grew to service employers and individuals for drug testing services in all areas of the United States including Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. In 2008, Reilly sold the business to embark on more drug testing industry consulting opportunities. He eventually got back in the business of operating as a third-party administrator (TPA) for drug testing programs in 2013 when he opened National Drug Screening.
Recognized by the drug testing industry association (DATIA) as Nationally Accredited for Administration of Drug and Alcohol Testing Programs (NAADATP); the team at National Drug Screening helps employers implement and maintain comprehensive drug free workplace programs in compliance with industry best practices, Federal and State laws and regulations.
Strong Competitive Advantages
According to Reilly, who’s known throughout the United States as an expert in the drug testing industry, National Drug Screening’s competitive advantage comes down to several factors. “First and foremost, our knowledge, expertise and history of being in the business for 26 years give us a tremendous amount of credibility,” he said. “Between 2004 and 2008 I served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA), the national trade organization for the drug testing industry. Through that experience, I got to know everyone in the industry. In addition, I’ve written publications and conducted numerous training sessions. People seek me out and see me as ‘the guy’ to go to. I’ve also been able to take that knowledge and empower my staff. Our team is trained and empowered to, not only help customers on the first phone call, but also to make the sale.”
Reilly continued, “We also take advantage of technology to its fullest. On the operationally side, we have the latest and most robust technology to order, process and send out final results to customers. Our advanced software is connected to Medical Review Officers and laboratories, creating a true all-in-one system. From a marketing standpoint, we’ve utilized technology to build an incredible website and to improve our SEO.”
Reilly has worked with many high profile organizations as a speaker or trainer on drug free workplace programs and drug testing, including the US Small Business Administration (SBA), the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the US Department of Education, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the Washington DC Department of Public Works, the Florida Office of Drug Control, the Florida Department of Corrections, the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA), the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), the Florida Trucking Association, Florida Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) and numerous Chambers of Commerce and business associations.
As a TPA, National Drug Screening works with major laboratories such as LabCorp and Quest in order to utilize their facilities. The lab collects the urine, oral fluid or hair and National Drug Screening sets up the accounts, handles the billing and interacts with the employee’s organization. It’s an ideal partnership and one that allows the company to establish a presence in most major cities across the country.
National Drug Screening’s workforce consists of 20 full-time employees. Since acquiring some large customers over the past couple years, they’ve put in place dedicated team members to manage these accounts. When it comes to company culture, Reilly described it as follows.
“We’re casual, flexible and friendly,” he said. “We spend a lot of time training and we stress a ‘drama free’ work environment. In fact, Julie Floriano, our VP of Operations and our second employee, and I, made a commitment that we wanted a no drama work environment. We even stress this during the interview. People with drama don’t last long. I’m also very involved on a day-to-day basis and enjoy meeting with good candidates during the interview process.”
When it comes to community involvement and philanthropic activities, National Drug Screening gives back in a number of ways. They’re very focused on supporting and sponsoring the local Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) chapter. This includes monetary donations, attending meetings and giving presentations on various HR and drug testing related topics. They’re also involved with the Palm Bay Rotary club, where they raise and donate money for holiday food drives and provide full turkey dinners to needy families on Thanksgiving. They also sponsor many charities and fundraisers supported by employees.
According to Reilly, operating in the state of Florida is beneficial for a number of reasons. “We have a good work life balance, especially compared to northern states,” he said. “On my way to work in the morning, I get to see the beautiful intracoastal waterway and it’s a short commute. Office space is also cheaper compared to other cities up north. Wages used to be more reasonable than they are now, but we still pay more than our competition. Retention is big for us. Our specific location in Brevard County also gives us easy access to The Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne. Over the years, we’ve pulled interns and graduates from there. Eastern Florida State College and, believe it or not, Melbourne High’s Business Academy are other sources for interns.”
What it Means to be a Florida Companies to Watch Honoree
“We’re humbled and proud, but we also kind of feel deserving,” Reilly said. “We work really hard to create a great open-door and no drama culture. This award is a reflection of that and the hard work we’ve put into growing the business. Being selected has a lot to do with how our story reads on paper, but also our commitment to empower and properly train employees.”
Reilly continued, “In terms of who I’d like to thank for the honor, first would be Tom Fulmer, our VP of Business Development. Tom spearheads a lot of fun programs for employees and he’s also very active in the community. He does all the networking events, presentations and chamber meetings I did when I was younger. I’d also like to thank Jeff Piersall and Eric Wright with Space Coast Business Magazine for encouraging us to apply.”
Looking ahead, Reilly’s goals are to increase revenue by continuing to provide exceptional customer service that will lead to greater retention and eventually more customers. He’d like to maintain and grow the company’s competitive edge through the presence of their robust website and advanced software. Along those lines, a new project is in the works to provide a comprehensive state-by-state guide on medical marijuana laws. They’re also looking at ways to automate processes and to be more efficient while still providing great customer services.
When asked about the effects of the growing trend to legalize medical marijuana and in some cases, allow it to be used recreationally, Reilly had this to say. “We haven’t seen it harm the business yet. In fact, what we’re seeing is actually the opposite. If employers stop testing for marijuana or make changes to how they test, they need help navigating it. We do earn revenue for consultative services. The fact that medical marijuana and recreational marijuana is in the news every day, it’s like putting a spot light on it. We’ll get people calling up that aren’t a regulated company required to do drug testing, but they want to start a program. That’s because it’s on their mind and they’ve seen it in the media. That may change in the future, but for now it’s been good.”
Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
“Think through it very carefully,” he said. “Seek guidance and talk to other entrepreneurs. Also, you’ll need to make some serious decisions that you are willing to work hard. You’ll end up working harder in the beginning than any employee. It’s not easy, but it can be very rewarding. Entrepreneurship is also not for everyone. I grew up in a culture where we didn’t have anything handed to us. My parents were low-medium income and they both worked hard to put us through Catholic school. If we wanted something special as a kid we went out and worked for it. That’s the mentality you need to have. Hard work definitely pays off. Other advice is to understand that the internet is the great equalizer. It can take your business from being on the street corner and only having business within a certain radius to being national and even global.”